window washer
The Google Analytics new homepage tries to balance the features users know and love with easier to understand metrics PHOTO: Adam Birkett

When Google recently announced changes to its venerable Google Analytics homepage, user reactions to the reboot reminded me of fans’ reactions when superheroes transition from the pages of comic books to the world of big-budget Hollywood movies. 

Inevitably, there are purists who will mourn any changes, but as the likes of Batman and Wonder Woman prove, just as many adored old characters get a new lease on life when they’re introduced to new generations through new media. 

Easier Insights for More Complex Analytics

Google’s challenge in giving its much-loved Google Analytics a facelift has been similar: how to retain all the features users cherish while making the metrics — and the insights they yield — easier to understand as ever more complex analytics are introduced. 

As Google Analytics rolls out its new landing page over the next few weeks, users will be greeted by a curated set of report views called snippets. Each report snippet will be preceded by a question that frames the data in the report, such as “When do your visitors arrive?” or “Where do your visitors come from?”

new google analytics homepage

Users can hover their cursors to drill down for more detail on single data points or drill into the relevant report using the links embedded in each snippet.

Google Analytics Goes Mobile

The new Google Analytics homepage is the latest in a series of updates that Google has been ushering into its analytics solution over the past year. 

Last year Google introduced a redesigned mobile app that provided better at-a-glance insights for users who wanted highlights without having to view the complete report via laptop. That app has already proven to be so popular that it has been downloaded over a million times. Google also recently simplified its Google Analytics User Interface to allow users to find and view accounts more quickly.

More Intuitive Contextual Views 

All of these changes are part of an overall move on Google’s part to make its reports more intuitive for users, a trend we’ve seen with a number of reports, ranging its new Smart Goals metrics to its advanced 360 suite, Google Surveys

Google is also moving toward providing users with broader overviews from their data and better understanding of which contexts results in various behaviors and transactions.

More Powerful Machine Learning Tools

And with data from analytics solutions increasingly feeding into machine learning models, Google is stepping up its efforts to give users more powerful tools to establish more accurate contexts for traditional sources of data, from paid search to URL tags in email.  

These improved contextual abilities also open the door for analytics to help companies create knowledge capital — the intangible assets that accrue from deeper insights and better decision-making. 

Managing knowledge capital is partly why data aggregation is now an essential trend, particularly for industries such as retail that are experiencing unprecedented levels of upheaval. 

And in this era of digitized brand and business interactions, when insights can seem disjointed, Google knows that data aggregation represents the vital first step toward creating the kinds of predictive models and machine learning that will more accurately reveal customer journeys. 

Creating Data Visualization Superheroes

Accordingly, Google has placed its bet that the best way to eliminate those disjointed feelings and data disconnects is to find ways to simplify the data visualizations that users first see. 

Google has been taking outstanding steps toward that goal so far, and it’s a safe bet that more will come from Google over the year. Meanwhile, the changes to Google Analytics will give analytics practitioners a leg up in quickly assessing their metrics — and hopefully leave them feeling every bit as heroic as Batman or Wonder Woman.